THE WEST Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is reminding landlords and business owners alike of the importance of maintaining good fire safety standards following two successful prosecutions for fire safety breaches.

In the first of two cases held at Crawley Magistrates Court, the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service successfully brought a prosecution against Alan Poate of Maxwell Road in Arundel after he pleaded guilty to seven charges of breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Poate was the landlord of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Littlehampton that was involved in a fire episode in June last year. One of the residents at the premises had to be rescued from a ground floor room by firefighters from Littlehampton Fire Station after the blaze broke out. It was subsequently discovered that there was no working fire alarm system at the property along. Numerous other fire safety breaches were noted throughout the building, while no fire risk assessment had been conducted to address the hazards and risks present within the property.

As a result, Poate was sentenced and fined £507, along with a victim surcharge of £51, and also ordered to pay prosecutions costs of £1,923.

Inadequate means of escape

In the second case, Feng Jiang Chui, 53, of Spencer Road in Horsham pleaded guilty to no less than seven breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in relation to a takeaway business he operated. West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s fire safety enforcement officers discovered numerous breaches of the Fire Safety Order at Mandarin House in November last year.

Specifically, there was no working fire alarm system at the premises in tandem with inadequate means of escape from the sleeping accommodation on the first floor of the property. Enforcement officers also noted a failure to take general fire precautions, with unsafe and dangerous overloading of the electrical system evident at the location.

Due to the severity of the breaches, the enforcement officers imposed a prohibition notice preventing use of the premises until the breaches detailed were satisfactorily rectified. Chui was fined £1,080, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £108 and also prosecution costs of £1,801.

Landlords have a legal Duty of Care to maintain a working fire alarm system at their premises so as to ensure the earliest possible warning when a fire breaks out.

Tenant safety must be priority

Speaking about the two cases, Andy Parsons, fire safety enforcement manager at the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, explained: “We’re fully committed to keeping the communities of West Sussex safe. Inadequate fire safety measures in properties, be that businesses or HMOs, are simply not acceptable. We fully expect landlords to put the safety of their tenants first.”

Parsons concluded: “We will continue to work towards ensuring that both businesses and landlords keep their properties in good condition and adhere to the relevant fire safety regulations. Evidence of failing the public and residents’ safety will lead to prosecution.”

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